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Yes Virginia, there is a Portland marathon

On October 7, a new marathon will run on the streets of Portland, Ore. Portlandathon, a marathon, half-marathon, 5-miler, and 4-mile walk, is organized by Run with Paula, a local race organizer with a well-earned outstanding reputation. 

Type “portlandmarathon.org” into your web browser and you’ll find a letter from the now-dissolved Portland Marathon Organization’s Board of Directors explaining how there is no “Portland Marathon” this year, extolling the race’s reputation as “The People’s Marathon” and proclaiming their belief that Portland deserves a world-class marathon.

What you won’t find in this letter is any mention of the organizer that earned the opportunity to put on a Portland marathon this year or even any mention that there will, in fact, be a Portland marathon this year. Just because the “m” in “marathon” isn’t capitalized or followed by the registered trademark symbol doesn’t mean that there won’t be a race in Portland this October.

There won’t be a race put on by the Portland Marathon Organization this year. It’s true. And that’s a great thing. The Portland Marathon Organization was not serving the interests of local runners, the committee, or the larger community. But we don’t need to dwell on the negative.

What should be big news is that Run with Paula is putting on a Portland marathon this fall. It’s called Portlandathon and will offer a marathon, half marathon, a 5-miler, and a 4-mile walk. I’ll repeat that: The Run with Paula team, who puts on events including the Goddess Half Marathon and Hippie Chick, is the organizer of Portlandathon, an event on October 7 that has something for everyone.

The last line of the open letter at portlandmarathon.org from the former Board of Directors of the defunct race reads, “As longtime supporters of the Portland Marathon organization, today represents the bittersweet end of an era, but we remain hopeful that a new organization will take up the torch and give Portland an annual, world-class marathon for years to come.”

Well, everyone, heads up. A new organization is off and running with the torch, a torch that was down to its last embers. The flame can return, but it requires the community’s full support. The team at Run with Paula will do an amazing job, and it’s up to us runners to spread the word. Tell your friends, “Yes, there IS a Portland marathon this fall. And it’s going to be epic.”

So tell everyone you know about Portlandathon … and remember to get yourself registered!

The full content of the letter from former Portland Marathon Organization Board of Directors reads:

Open Letter from the Portland Marathon Board of Directors

After much deliberation and thoughtful consideration, the Portland Marathon Board of Directors has decided not to hold a Portland Marathon or Half Marathon in 2018 and to begin the process of dissolving the organization. While this was a difficult and painful decision for all involved, board members reached this decision after considering input from our many stakeholders and determining what we feel is best for the running community and the City of Portland.

First and foremost, we want to assure all 2018 race registrants — approximately 2,500 — that they will receive a full refund of registration fees through our race registration platform, Active.com. All remaining funds from the organization, after accounting for expenses and consistent with state law, will be donated to local charities.

The Portland Marathon has operated in the City of Portland for 47 years, building the race from a small, local event into one of the premier marathons in the world. We are proud of the event’s tradition as a marathon of the people and are grateful for the opportunity to have been part of successfully hosting this great event in the Rose City for so many years.

Our decision was based on a number of factors, including a decline in race registrants for 2018 and the board’s understanding of the City of Portland’s desire to move in a different direction. Upon taking oversight responsibility, we made diligent efforts to move the Portland Marathon organization in a positive direction and resolve past challenges. Unfortunately, the state of the organization has proved too fragile. We concluded that the only responsible choice is to dissolve the organization and distribute the remaining funds to charitable organizations.

We believe Portland is a city that deserves a world class marathon. We are confident that Portland’s running community and City officials can meet this challenge, and that Portland has the necessary local talent to produce a world class marathon.

We are grateful to the Oregon Department of Justice and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum for working tirelessly to assist us in recovery of funds taken from our organization. As a result of their work, remaining funds will be used to support important causes and organizations in Oregon.

We extend our deepest thanks and most sincere gratitude to all of our participants, volunteers, charitable partners, sponsors, vendors and city leaders who, over the last 47 years, have worked tirelessly to ensure a successful race. We cannot begin to express what a pleasure it has been to work with you all and how grateful we are for your commitment to our shared tradition.

As longtime supporters of the Portland Marathon organization, today represents the bittersweet end of an era, but we remain hopeful that a new organization will take up the torch and give Portland an annual, world-class marathon for years to come.

– Richard Busby, Julian Smith, Andy Ritchie, Jim Schaeffer and Gina McVicker are members of the Portland Marathon Board of Directors.

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About Kelly Barten (903 Articles)
I started the Run Oregon blog in February 2007, because I felt like running in Oregon and SW Washington deserved more positive coverage. I also wanted to level the playing field so that small, non-profit races could compete with big events; and to support LOCAL race organizers. I'm a Creighton Bluejay (undergrad) and an Oregon Duck (Sports Marketing MBA), and I live in Tigard with my husband and two kids. My "real job" is working for an incredibly awesome math textbook company doing marketing and production.

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